Research finding summaries

The Dispossession-Versus-Exploitation Dilemma for Informal Workers

Over the past 40 years, however, a formidable body of literature has challenged the prevailing assumptions about informal workers, asserting that their vulnerability stems not from their lack of integration into the mainstream economy, but rather from their subordinated positions within it.

By |2021-09-15T09:27:07-04:00Sep 15, 2021|

Theorizing “OK Boomer!” Class War or Generation War?

"OK Boomer" emerged as a symptom of late-capitalist postmodernity among a generation who, for structural reasons, may not ever realize the even modestly comfortable lifestyles of many of their (grand)parents. Rather than confront this structural issue, many engage in “fetishistic disavowal.”

By |2021-07-07T11:34:37-04:00Jul 7, 2021|

Informal Employment and the Social Reproduction of Value

Social Reproduction Theory recenters the analysis of capitalism on its reproductive architecture. Here, I further discuss the centrality of social reproduction to value generation and develop a ‘value theory of inclusion’. I identify three concrete mechanisms through which social reproduction contributes to value generation. The first reproductive mechanism is based on (migrant) workers’ living arrangements at their place of work: dormitories or informal housing in slum-like industrial villages. The second channel through which social reproduction is generative of value is through the complex process of rural-urban migration and circulation of labour, which subsidizes capital by socialising reproductive costs. The third channel is the incorporation of homeworkers into global value chains.

By |2021-07-06T08:54:43-04:00Jul 2, 2021|

MSB Podcast Episode 2! Michael Levien & Smriti Upadhyay on Protest and Land Dispossession in India

Most studies of resistance to land dispossession have been case studies of positive instances of resistance, leaving aside instances of negative instances of acquiescence, and not looking comparatively across cases for broader patterns  That’s what makes a recent paper by Michael Levien and Smriti Upadhyay of Johns Hopkins University so exciting. It’s entitled “Toward a Political Sociology of Dispossession: Explaining Opposition to Capital Projects in India,” and it appears in the latest issue of the journal Politics & Society. Using systematic data on more than 23,000 major capital projects across India between 2007 and 2015, Levien and Upadhyay identify key factors that determine whether a project is likely to generate resistance or not. Some of their results may surprise you.

By |2021-06-23T10:04:30-04:00Jun 23, 2021|

The Organic Intellectuals in China

China has grown significantly in terms of economics and influence in international politics, igniting new debates about whether it has become hegemonic in the global economy. A Gramscian approach adds to our knowledge of China’s economic reform, the current socio-political development, and counter-hegemonic resistance.

By |2021-06-09T10:33:17-04:00Jun 9, 2021|

Our First Podcast! COVID-19, Racism, and Demography with Elizabeth Wrigley-Field

I found that to get the same age-adjusted death rates of the black population in 2014, the white population in 2020 would have had to have at least around 400,000 excess deaths in the COVID pandemic. And in order for white life expectancy to plummet down to the best-ever level of black life expectancy would take between 700,000 and one million excess white deaths in 2020.

By |2021-05-12T08:44:31-04:00May 12, 2021|

The Tech-VC Bloc is Key to Understanding Why Work is Getting Worse

Digital transformation is based on a promise. Sometimes this promise is the “end of work,” a world where technology displaces human toil. In more modest moments, digital transformation promises widespread prosperity, where investing in technological innovation delivers economic growth for all. These are attractive possibilities. Who wants to keep going [...]

By |2021-04-21T11:37:54-04:00Apr 21, 2021|

Thinking About Regulatory Extractive Instruments as Capitalist Violence

Imagined solutions to extractive sector injustices are limited by circumscribed regimes of policy "solutions" - and at times "transparency" is a fetish that results on documentation on paper and far too little meaningful change.

By |2021-04-14T10:22:54-04:00Apr 14, 2021|
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